How much impact will Georgia’s Will Muschamp have against S. Carolina?

Georgia football-defensive coordinator-Dan Lanning

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia assistant coach Will Muschamp surveys the field before game against UAB Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. While the former South Carolina head coach technically is special teams coordinator with the Bulldogs, he works closely with their defensive backs. On Saturday, he'll be on the opposite sideline of his former team. (John Bazemore/AP)

Credit: AP

ATHENS — Ten months ago, Will Muschamp worked daily in the office now occupied by Shane Beamer at South Carolina. Of the 125 Gamecocks currently on their roster, Muschamp recruited all but about 25 to Columbia, and it’s likely he knew more than half of them, too.

Muschamp is now deeply embedded with the Georgia Bulldogs. He has been almost since he drove his pickup out of Richland County.

Muschamp was fired as South Carolina’s head coach Nov. 15 and was working with the Bulldogs’ football program less than a month later, even before they broke for Christmas break. Muschamp finalized his negotiated settlement with the Gamecocks on Dec. 31, then was officially announced as a defensive analyst for UGA in February. He was promoted to full-time assistant coach in late July.

Neither Georgia coach Kirby Smart nor Beamer believe that creates any inherent advantages for the Bulldogs as they prepare to host South Carolina on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN) at Sanford Stadium.

“We go through this all the time,” Smart said Monday. “We went through it with DK (Derion Kendrick) on Clemson. We go through it every year with coaches. Somebody changes spots, you guys write about it, make a big deal about it, and it’s not that big a deal, really.”

Beamer concurred.

“Very little,” Beamer said when asked what impact Muschamp’s presence at Georgia might have. “And that’s no disrespect to Will. I mean, none of the schemes are alike, what we’re doing here this year opposed to last year. Obviously he’s going to know personnel and things about certain guys, offense, defense and special teams. He’s going to know about those guys and certainly help them with that. He’s got more of a familiarity with our team than I do Georgia’s. But there’s some guys on Georgia’s team when I was there.”

Beamer mentioned quarterback Stetson Bennett, who was running Georgia’s scout team when Beamer was the Bulldogs’ tight ends coach in 2017. And he was involved in the recruitment of some current players, including tight end John FitzPatrick and linebacker Channing Tindall.

Meanwhile, Muschamp’s overall impact on Georgia’s program has been significant. Redshirt freshman cornerback Kelee Ringo on Monday talked about working with Muschamp as early as last December.

“Coach Muschamp is a great coach,” he said. “He’s coached with coach Kirby Smart a good amount throughout their careers as well. So, coming in, we had a lot of trust in him. He coached with us last year as well. We had a little bit of time with him going into the bowl game. So, we established a relationship early with him and we know he can coach.”

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Georgia senior defensive analyst Will Muschamp assists during the Bulldogs’ practice session Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Georgia senior defensive analyst Will Muschamp assists during the Bulldogs’ practice session Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia senior defensive analyst Will Muschamp assists during the Bulldogs’ practice session Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Credit: UGA Athletics

Technically, Muschamp is Georgia’s special-teams coordinator. He stepped in as Smart’s 10th assistant coach when Scott Cochran, the previous special-teams coordinator, stepped away for health-related reasons.

But as much as anything, Muschamp has served as a third defensive backfield coach for the Bulldogs. First-year assistant Jahmile Addae is Georgia’s designated DBs coach, but Smart has always spent a significant amount of time working with the secondary at practice each day. And Georgia’s DBs all have mentioned working with Muschamp as well.

“Coach Muschamp’s a really good dude,” fifth-year senior Ameer Speed said. “He’s been helping all the young guys out a lot, drilling the scheme into us and making sure we all know what’s going on. Little stuff that kind of adds up to help you improve your game and get better at what we do. Both him and coach Smart, those two heads together, help you out a lot.”

That certainly has proved beneficial for the Bulldogs as they have undergone an almost complete overhaul of the secondary since the end of last season. Georgia has had to replace seven defensive backs who are either in the NFL or transferred to other programs.

So, in that respect, Muschamp has made a tremendous impact. As for inside intel on the Gamecocks, not so much, Smart insists.

“He’s not in their meetings; he doesn’t know their game plan,” Smart said. “He does know who their players are, and I just don’t know how that helps you a lot. We know their heights, weight. And we’ve got their tape and the tape speaks for itself. He just might know more about them in terms of what their strengths and weaknesses are.”

That certainly can’t hurt.

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